We’ve reached the traditional festive period of games with Manchester United 3rd in the Premier League table and unbeaten in the last seven games having won 6 and drawn one. United face three fixtures in six days with first up Newcastle United at Old Trafford on Boxing Day before trips to Tottenham on Sunday and Stoke on New Years Day. This is a must win game for United given that they have two tough away games coming up after this game and will be looking to keep their unbeaten run going after the previous seven games where Manchester United having taken 19 points from a possible 21 having won the first six then drawing the previous game against Aston Villa.
Manchester United will also be looking to avenge the 1-0 defeat they suffered at the hands of Newcastle United at Old Trafford last season. That was one of many games Manchester United lost at Old Trafford last season and after an opening day defeat to Swansea City, United have been unbeaten at Old Trafford this season and will be looking to continue that and return Old Trafford to the days when it was a fortress under Sir Alex Ferguson.
The two teams go into this match at opposing ends of the form table that covers the last six games, with Manchester United currently 2nd only to local rivals Manchester City having taken 16 points from a possible 18 in the last games having won 5 of them and drawn one. While Newcastle’s current form sees them in 14th place in the form table having lost three, won two and drawn one of their last 6 Premier League games, taking 7 points from a possible 18 in that period. Though in that run of games one of the two victories came against Chelsea at St James Park. Of their last three away games Newcastle have lost two and drawn one, having lost 1-0 at West Ham and 4-1 at Arsenal.
Both sides have lost players to injuries this season, with Manchester United having already suffered well over 40 injuries this and are currently missing 6 first-team players, with Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling, Marouane Fellaini, Daley Blind and Ander Herrera all set to be missing for Manchester for this fixture. While Newcastle United are set to be missing 10 players for this match including their two first choice goalkeepers.
So I think with the injuries not subsiding for Manchester United, especially in defence I expect to Manchester United continue with a back 5 with Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young continuing as wing-backs and probably seeing Michael Carrick continuing in the centre-back role that we have seen him in recently unless Louis Van Gaal decides to recall Tyler Blackett or Paddy McNair to the starting eleven. Surely Angel Di Maria will return to the starting eleven after returning from his recent hamstring injury from the bench against Aston Villa last weekend. I think Manchester United are still looking for Di Maria’s best position in this team. Is it playing in a midfield diamond or will he be better playing off the front men where he can drift into several different areas of the pitch. Where will Wayne Rooney play in this match, will he be up front, behind the front two or will he employed in midfield again. All big decisions for Louis Van Gaal to make for this match.